- 24 Jul 16
The Irish comedian and writer talks abortion shaming, ProChoice smearing and why Maser’s Repeal the 8th Mural should stay.
Barely a day passes that the Repeal the 8th movement isn’t in the headlines. This week, a mural on the wall of the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar, with the slogan 'Repeal the 8th' has attracted some controversy.
The artwork, offending or otherwise, was commissioned by ‘Hunreal Issues’, a new website that aims to share women’s issues with a wider audience and painted by renowned urban artist Maser.
It is not the first mural to appear outside the Centre, but it is definitely the most controversial. Its predecessor was a big ‘YES’ mural to honour the marriage referendum, which curiously didn’t receive any complaints.
This highlights how incredibly divisive the issue of abortion can be – at least for some.
According to Project Arts Artistic Director Cian O’Brien, the centre has received 50 complaints, but it has also attracted over 200 messages of support.
One supporter is the writer and comedian, Tara Flynn. When she’s not making people laugh at comedy festivals or celebrating the success of her recent book Giving Out Yards: The Art of Complaint, Irish Style, Tara is a brilliant spokeswoman for some of Ireland’s most necessary causes.
Flynn has been a strong campaigner for the ProChoice side, bravely sharing her own experience of abortion in 2015. She says she wasn’t surprised by the mural controversy,. “Because that’s the kind of petty way the anti-choice campaigners tend to misrepresent," she says. "They tend to focus on any level of confrontation to shut it down.”
Flynn recently came under attack herself, when an anti-choice site photoshopped a picture of her, in which she had originally been wearing a repeal t-shirt. However, they had doctored the picture and changed the slogan on the t-shirt. Now, in the hands of the anti-choicers, it read: “I aborted my only child.”
“Let them try to smear us,” says Tara. “I am proud to associate my image with the right to choose. They’ve done a great job in making our side look good. The more hate they express, the stronger our cause becomes. It’s a disgusting thing to do, to put words in my mouth. And trying to censor the mural is the same.”
“The mural is artistic expression at its most positive, giving the oppressed a voice, saying: you’re not on your own.”
Predictably there are two petitions: a petition in favour of keeping the mural, and a petition in favour of removing it. Dublin City Council, The Irish Government Ombudsman and SIPO (Standards In Public Office Commission) have been called into the fray, so a decision should be made in the coming weeks.
“It would be a very sad day for Ireland if the mural was taken down,” says Tara. “I’d feel like their pressure has won. But guess what? We’re like mushrooms now. If it comes down there, it’ll pop up somewhere else. This is unstoppable. This is people power at its finest.
"You can’t put a lid on a volcano.”